Since no trip to a foreign country is complete without experiencing its nightlife, I decided to check out a few unique cocktail bars and venues in Taipei and Taichung while I was traveling in Taiwan earlier this year. Through going to music events in Tokyo, I was fortunate to have met my friend Hojo who not only manages tours and bookings for foreign artists, but also curates in own events in Taiwan with CUSTOMS and DJs music that transcends genres (see Hojo’s SoundCloud for reference). In Asia it’s generally easy to find bars and spots to socialize, but the scene I found here far exceeded my expectations.
At Taiwan’s venues, particularly at FINAL, the entrance fee is affordable, the cocktails and music are top-notch, and you can actually sit down with people and socialize. A big issue with some venues in Tokyo is that they are too crowded, and although I am a club enthusiast I sometimes find it hard to relax even when I really enjoy the music. People in Tokyo have a tendency to seek stimulation (and I am guilty as charged), but it’s very easy to get drained from the steady flow of events. However, in Taiwan I never had that issue. Each night I went out I was able to find the perfect atmosphere for whatever mood I was in, meet a lot of new friends, and make awesome memories that make me want to come back here in the future.
The Fucking Place (操場)
The very first bar I went to in Taipei was called The Fucking Place. This place became a meme when Trekkie Trax toured here because one of their members got legendarily lit, so it’s been on my bucket list for quite a long time. This bar is close to a lot of clubs in Taipei, so it makes the ideal pregaming spot. But why the name, you ask? Hojo explains it all in his Tweet below:
True to its name, Fucking Place’s atmosphere is cozy and welcoming. They have a large selection of hard liquors and you can ask for your own favorite cocktail combination too. I drank whiskey mixed with milk and reached the perfect level of drunk among good people.
The upstairs of the bar is also worth checking out because it has a mini gallery that will perhaps expand in the future:
By far one of the best venues I’ve experienced in Asia is FINAL in Taipei. I was at here 3 different nights during my 12 day stay in Taiwan because each night had a diverse variety of music. This club has always been on my radar because a number of my favorite artists from Japan (including Carpainter and Onjuicy) have performed here, and Hojo also runs his own events here. Each night I connected with different friends from around the world so I would say the scene here is very international and friendly.
By chance, Night Tempo and Neon City Records were doing a large show here on the first Friday of 2020 during my trip, so I was extremely lucky to see them here. I have been following Night Tempo since college and attended his first HMV show in Tokyo, but recently haven’t been able to attend his events in Japan because they sell out extremely fast. Fortunately I was able to get door tickets here and catch his amazing 2 hour performance while catching up with my friends in Taiwan.
Night Tempo’s style has really changed from sampling old Japanese songs to producing Showa era idol music and recently working with famous vocalists like Anri and Mariya Takeuchi. He played at Fuji Rock last year in addition to touring many Asian countries and America as well. I have met some of my best friends through his music, so I always try to catch his events whenever I can:
The very next day, Hojo hosted CUSTOMS featuring IVVVO who I met, and other aspiring international artists with a lot of talent. As I have heard from my friends who previously attended CUSTOMS events in the US, this one was nothing short of amazing. Each artist played whatever style of music they wanted, and no one could predict what was coming next so it was fun. One of my favorite moments was captured below:
I would recommend FINAL to everyone because it plays and caters to all tastes of music. The scene is here is one of the best I’ve come across in Asia and I look forward to seeing who else performs here.
While I was in Taiching, I decided to check out this bar called The Cave because it was the other venue in Taiwan where Night Tempo toured. I came here on a weekday so no live performer was playing, but I really appreciated the ambient atmosphere and the carefully mixed cocktails the bartender crafted for me. I ordered one that looked like cotton candy and was coated with honey, and another delicious cherry one that was both delicious and high in alcohol content. This was one of the best bars that I have been to in Taiwan, and I highly recommend it to everyone. It was very cozy but perfect for the mood that I was in.
Afterwards, I decided to go on a walk to the nearby Taichung Park Pavilion. I really appreciated the vibe of the neon lights and how bright the pavilion shone at night (I think it looks prettier at night than during the day). Additionally I ran into so many cute dogs that were being walked here, so it was a real delight.
On my very last night in Taipei, I went to a small lounge called Round4 recommended by Hojo. Since it was a weeknight it wasn’t very crowded, but the bartenders gave us the best hospitality. A bartender named Jimmy came out and talked to us, and also made special coffee cocktails that I’ll never forget. I really like it when the bartenders make an effort to connect with their visitors, so this is a place I’d like to drink at again because it has good vibes.
Which raises the question…
Will I return to Taiwan in the future?
Since it’s right next door to Japan, I would say there is a very high chance that I will return. I had a phenomenal time both experiencing the night life and spending time with nature in this country. There will be a music festival held at a temple this year that I am considering coming back for. Once the dates are decided, I may buy another plane ticket depending on my schedule. The life of a traveler who also loves clubbing is never complacent.